Associated Press Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-HAWAII BOWL

Beavers try to snap five-game losing streak

HONOLULU (AP) -- It's a very quiet calendar in the sports world, with just one major event dotting the Christmas Eve sporting schedule.

The 6-6 Oregon State Beavers can finish with a winning record with a victory over 8-4 Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl (8 p.m. Eastern kickoff). The Beavers started the season 6-1 but come into this bowl game on a five-game losing streak.

A win for Boise State would boost a team in transition. Coach Chris Petersen has left after taking a job at the University of Washington earlier this month. Boise State has already hired his replacement, Brian Harsin, but interim coach Bob Gregory is leading the team in tonight's bowl.

A key matchup could be Oregon State's passing offense versus Boise State's passing defense. Boise State will need to focus on stopping Brandin Cooks, Oregon State's standout wide receiver.

The All-American won the Biletnikoff (bih-LIHT'-nih-kahf) Award as the nation's most outstanding wide receiver after a season filled with big plays. He had 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 13 touchdowns, including 31 catches for more than 20 yards. Cooks' performance tonight could be a prelude to the junior skipping his senior year and declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft.

Grant Hedrick will get all the action at quarterback for Boise State. The Broncos had been using two quarterbacks. But Joe Southwick was dismissed for this game by Boise State for allegedly immature behavior on the islands.

NFL-CANDLESTICK PARK ARRESTS

30 arrests during finale

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco police say 30 people were arrested during the 49ers' final regular season game at Candlestick Park.

Police did not say what the arrests were for during last night's game, when the 49ers clinched a playoff spot after beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-24. The San Francisco Chronicle reported at least some were arrested on suspicion of stealing seats from the stadium.

In addition to the arrests, police said 81 people were ejected and seven people were cited.

The Niners are moving to a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara next season.

NFL-PLAYOFFS-NFC

All four NFC divisions up for grabs

UNDATED (AP) -- Thanks to San Francisco's come-from-behind 34-24 victory over Atlanta last night in the finale at Candlestick Park, all four NFC division titles will be at stake Sunday in the NFL regular-season finale.

The Niners' victory prevented Seattle from clinching the NFC West. The Seahawks lead the Niners by one game. Seattle finishes at home against Seattle. The Niners visit Arizona, which is also in the NFC wild card hunt, on Sunday.

The NFC North title is a winner-take-all event when Green Bay visits Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears. Both teams are coming off losses in Week 16.

Carolina has clinched its first playoff berth in five years. But the Panthers can win the NFC North with either a victory over Atlanta or a New Orleans loss against Tampa Bay.

The NFC East title will go to the winner of Sunday night's Philadelphia-Dallas matchup.

NFL PLAYOFFS-AFC

First-round byes at stake in AFC

UNDATED (AP)-- The playoff picture in the AFC is a little clearer, with all four division titles clinched. But those all-important first-round byes are still at stake.

New England has clinched the AFC East but will earn home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with a win and a Denver loss. The Broncos already have clinched the AFC West and a first-round bye and will earn home-field throughout the playoffs with a win against Oakland.

Cincinnati has wrapped up the AFC North but clinches a first-round bye with a win against Baltimore and a New England loss.

Indianapolis is AFC South champion. But the Colts clinch a first-round bye with a win over Jacksonville, a New England loss and a Cincinnati loss or tie.

Kansas City has clinched a playoff spot. San Diego, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are alive for wild cards but need help.

NFL-HURTING QBs

Romo, Rodgers still uncertain for Week 17

UNDATED (AP)-- The health of two of the NFL's premier quarterbacks is uncertain for their team's regular-season finales.

Tony Romo's back injury is casting a cloud over the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says Romo hasn't been ruled out of Sunday's game at Philadelphia after injuring his back during Sunday's win at Washington. Garrett says Romo underwent an MRI Monday and will continue to receive treatment and undergo further evaluation.

If Romo can't go, backup Kyle Orton gets the start. But Garrett says the Cowboys plan to sign an additional quarterback in the next day or two.

Meanwhile, Packers coach Mike McCarthy isn't sure if quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start the team's winner-take-all NFC North matchup against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday. McCarthy says the team wants to make a decision on Rodgers' availability "sooner than later." Rodgers has missed the Packers' last seven games since fracturing his left collarbone against the Bears at Lambeau Field on Nov. 4.

NBA-CHRISTMAS DAY

5 games in holiday bonanza

UNDATED (AP)-- The NBA takes tonight off, but the action heats up with five games on Christmas Day.

The Brooklyn Nets get the holiday under way with a home game against the Chicago Bulls. Both teams are early season disappointments, sporting sub-.500 records.

Speaking of disappointments, the New York Knicks are home at Madison Square Garden for a Christmas matinee. The 9-18 Knicks, who had aspirations of a high seed in the playoffs before the season, draw the 22-5 Oklahoma City Thunder as their holiday present.

The 21-6 Miami Heat, coming off an overtime victory Monday night against Atlanta, travel to Staples Center to take on a Lakers team still reeling from the loss of star guard Kobe Bryant to another injury.

The battle of Texas occurs in the Alamo City when the San Antonio Spurs host the Houston Rockets. The 22-6 Spurs hold a four and a-game game lead over the Rockets in the Southwest Division.

A Pacific Division showdown winds up the five-game Christmas slate. The division-leading L.A. Clippers are in Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors, who are four games back in the Pacific.

NHL-DARK FOR HOLIDAY

UNDATED (AP) -- The NHL has tonight and Christmas off for the holidays.

The hottest team in hockey right now is the Anaheim Ducks, who stretched their team-record winning streak to nine in a row after erasing a two-goal deficit for the second straight game with a 3-2 victory in Washington Monday night. The Ducks lead the NHL with 59 points in 39 games, sitting atop the Western Conference.

Pittsburgh had won seven straight and 12 of 13 before Erik Karlsson collected a goal and two assists in Ottawa's 5-0 rout of the Penguins last night. Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots in his 24th career shutout. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference with 55 points in 39 games.

NHL play resumes Thursday.


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